We all know that starting in November, time seems to speed up until all of a sudden, you’re ringing in the new year. And as a business owner (especially if you’re in retail), this time of year is particularly frenetic. To make things less “I might go nuts” and more “I got this,” it’s mission critical to head into early November with a plan of action — or at least with things as buttoned up as possible.
Here’s a holiday-readiness checklist:
Get the right product mix.
You’re not going to sell much if you’re not selling the right things. So make sure you’ve thought through your seasonal product mix. Sure, you can go on intuition and market research (social media is a great place to spot trending items) to predict which items might sell well. But for hard data points related to your specific business, look to Square Analytics. Your Dashboard has robust data that will tell you which items — or category of items — were particularly popular last year. (Maybe your succulents, for example, were hotter holiday gifts than your candles). Then use these insights to make informed purchasing decisions. Learn more about how to decide which products to sell.
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Get control of your inventory management.
“Out of stock” means a lost sale. So making sure you have the right amount of items stocked is paramount. [Retail inventory managenement] is crucial and Square Analytics is once again your go-to here — it shows you exactly how many of a certain item you sold last year, and on which days those sales spiked. Use that information to purchase inventory accordingly.
But even if you plan your inventory levels strategically, managing it all can be challenging, particularly if you’re an omnichannel business. Before the holidays, implement a retail pos solution that allows you to sync your inventory across both your online store and your brick-and-mortar store. (i.e., when you sell a product in your brick-and-mortar store, the inventory level in your online store automatically adjusts). Learn how to get your online store and brick-and-mortar ready for the holidays with our new ebook The Savvy Business Owner’s Guide to Omnichannel Holiday Success in partnership with Ecwid.
There are a number of e-commerce platforms — Ecwid, WooCommerce, Weebly, and Bigcommerce, for example — that you can hook up to your Square account to do just that. Check them out in Square App Marketplace to learn more.
Set your staff schedules.
The holidays are busy for everyone, including your staff. So if you haven’t already, dedicate this week to nailing down your holiday shift schedules. Streamlining all of this — especially during the crazed holidays — is a lot more easy if you have an employee scheduling system or app. It helps you manage everything remotely and makes checking shifts easier for both you and your staff. Square App Marketplace has a number of solutions you can sync to your Square account that take the hassle out of employee scheduling.
Hire seasonal help.
If a bunch of your staff will be out for the holidays, it’s likely you need some extra hands on deck. (Last year’s data can help you figure out which days were particularly busy.) In that case, it’s time to start your search for seasonal help. But before you do, make sure you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s when it comes to seasonal employee labor laws. Check out our new ebook, the Seasonal Hiring Guide for the 2016 Holidays we wrote with our friends at Xero. It covers how to hire solid seasonal workers, train them quickly, and manage your holiday payroll processing and cash flow.
Lock down your marketing plan.
Even if you don’t have big bucks (or the time) to spend on marketing this holiday season, you should still do something to get your business on the shopping radar. Strategic email marketing and social media campaigns are a great way to create some business buzz on a shoestring budget. Square’s Email Marketing Service (which will have Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and holiday-themed templates ready to go) is a particularly effective marketing avenue. The tool automatically segments your email list by your loyal, casual, or lapsed customers, which means you can laser-target your messaging.
With social media, the sky’s the limit in terms of creative campaigns. For inspiration, check out our recent post on Brilliant Thanksgiving Marketing Campaigns and 5 Ways to Give Your Social Media Accounts a Quick Boost This Holiday Season.
Regardless of what you decide to do in terms of marketing, you need to get organized. That means plotting out which days to launch your campaigns, and deciding how to nurture them throughout the season. Now is also the time to gather any assets you need (like holiday-themed or product images) and begin crafting your messaging (for both email and social media).
Completing this checklist will help make sure that it’s actually “the most wonderful time of the year” for your business. It may even give you some some extra time for the fun stuff — like planning a rocking holiday party for your business.
Photo credit: “07.HomeRule.1807.NW.WDC” by
Elvert Barnes, Flickr, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, cropped from original